February 14, 2006

EU Parliament CIA probe to hear Italian prosecutor

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - An Italian prosecutor who
wants to question CIA agents accused of snatching an imam in
Milan will speak to a European Parliament panel probing claims
of CIA abductions in Europe, an EU lawmaker said on Tuesday.

The committee was created last month to look into reports
that the U.S. intelligence service carried out abductions and
ran secret detention centres in Europe. It has no legal or
judicial powers.

EU lawmaker Claudio Fava told reporters Italian prosecutor
Armando Spataro would appear at the committee's first hearing
on February 23 because he was the first prosecutor to have
concluded an investigation into alleged CIA abductions.

Spataro investigated the kidnapping of Muslim cleric and
terrorism suspect Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in Milan in 2003
and has accused 22 CIA agents of involvement in the affair. A
Milan judge has issued a European arrest warrant for the

At the same meeting, EU lawmakers will hear Dick Marty, a
Swiss investigator for the Council of Europe, a human rights
watchdog based in Strasbourg which is also looking into the

Joanne Merimer, a counter-terrorism expert at the rights
group Human Rights Watch, has also confirmed her participation
in the February 23 hearing, according to a committee document.

"The important thing is to get clear facts and evidence to
help us discover the truth," Fava said, stressing the committee
would be impartial.

He said hearing members of the U.S. administration was "a
priority in the early part of our work" and the committee would
ask senior U.S. officials if they would be willing to appear.

Fava said he would explore the possibility of inviting U.S.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor Colin
Powell to appear before the committee.

But their names did not appear on an official list of
people the committee wants to invite to its hearings.

On the list are CIA Director Porter Goss and his
predecessor George Tenet as well as former U.S.
counterterrorism chiefs Richard Clarke and Vincent Cannistraro.

The committee also plans to contact European governments,
starting with Poland, Romania, Britain, Germany, Sweden and
Spain about the possibility of officials from those countries
appearing before the panel, the document showed.